Both teams began the qualification cycle on the right foot, with Malawi defeating Liberia 1-0, while the Tunisians were 4-0 winners at home to Sao Tome and Principe.
For a second successive encounter, the Malawians rescued themselves in the latter stages, scoring in the 78th minute on Friday, winning their opening match of a qualification cycle for the first time since the 2010 campaign.
Malawi remain unbeaten in normal time since Patrick Mabedi became the caretaker manager in June, with their previous victory being his first away from home.
Since taking charge, Mabedi's side have been much more organised defensively, posting six clean sheets in his nine matches at the helm.
They have only been behind in two of their last nine matches in all competitions, making the semi-finals of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup in July, losing on penalties versus Lesotho (3-1) in that round, while they were beaten in the third-place match in a shootout versus South Africa (5-3).
It has been well over a year since this team won a home fixture at Bingu National Stadium, defeating Ethiopia 2-1 in a June 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, while rescuing a point in their previous match played there with an 88th-minute equaliser versus Guinea in September (2-2).
The Malawians have never lost in three previous home fixtures against Tunisia, though it has been over 34 years since they beat them (1-0 in a June 1989 friendly).
The Tunisian quest to qualify for a third successive finals began positively, as this team have not been beaten at home in a World Cup qualification fixture since June 2008 (2-1 loss versus Burkina Faso).
That victory on matchday one of qualifying ended a two-game losing run for them after suffering defeats to South Korea (4-0) and Japan (2-0) in friendlies last month.
Since the start of 2022 three of the last four defeats by Jalel Kadri's men versus African opposition have occurred outside of Tunisia.
It has been over five years since this team were beaten by a side in their own continent after scoring the opening goal, losing 3-2 at Egypt in a November 2018 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Tunisia have only lost one of their last 20 second-round World Cup qualification fixtures, with that lone defeat coming away from home versus Equatorial Guinea in November 2021 (1-0).
They are unbeaten in their two previous World Cup qualifying fixtures against Malawi, outscoring them 9-2 over that stretch.
There were three new faces in the Malawi starting 11 on matchday one of World Cup qualifying who did not begin their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier versus Guinea with Chimwemwe Idana, John Banda, Olson Kanjira replacing Peter Banda, Chawanagwa Kawonga and Richard Mbulu.
We saw six changes to the Tunisian side that lost to Japan last month when they defeated Sao Tome and Principe on matchday one of qualifying, with Yassine Meriah, Montassar Talbi, Ali Abdi, Ellyes Skhiri and Aissa Laidouni being the only ones to keep their place in the starting 11.
Youssef Msakni scored his 21st international goal on Friday, moving ahead of Adel Sellimi for fourth all-time, with the other strikes coming courtesy of Meriah, Hamza Rafia and Firas Ben Larbi, while Bechir Ben Said picked up a clean sheet.
Malawi possible starting lineup:
Munthali; M'Balaka, Chaziya, Chembezi, Sanudi; Aaron, Mpinganjira, J. Banda; Mphasi, Kanjira, Nkhoma
Tunisia possible starting lineup:
Ben Said; Kechrida, Meriah, Talbi, Cherni; Rafia, Skhiri, Tka; Sliti, Jouini, Msakni
We say: Malawi 0-1 Tunisia
We expect Malawi to hang back and try to hit their opponents on the counter, given who they are up against, and while they have been quite capable of containing opposing attacks, the Malawians have not faced a side with as much quality as Tunisia in quite some time.
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